Along with a healthy diet and exercise, getting high quality sleep is important to living a healthy lifestyle. Most adults need to have at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night, but most people get much less sleep. Along with impaired thinking and cognitive abilities, chronic sleep problems can lead to or exacerbate many medical problems.
Breast Cancer Risks
A study conducted in Japan revealed women who slept less than six hours per night had a 62% higher risk of breast cancer. The study involved 24,000 women between the ages of 40 and 79. The study also showed women who managed to sleep more than nine hours each night lowered their breast cancer risk by 28%.
A study published in 2010 showed there is an increased risk of heart disease if you don’t get a good night’s sleep. The study from the West Virginia University Medical School included over 39,300 people. While most people showed an increased risk for heart disease if they didn’t get enough sleep, women under the age of 60 who slept five or less hours per night had twice the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Diabetes and Lack of Sleep
A lack of sleep has many effects on blood sugar levels for type 2 diabetics. Researchers found diabetics who don’t sleep well show 9% higher fasting glucose levels, 30% higher fasting insulin levels, and 43% higher insulin resistance levels. Those with insomnia, which is defined as difficulty getting and/or staying asleep, had even worse levels.
Diabetics with insomnia had 23% higher fasting glucose levels, 42% higher fasting insulin levels, and 82% higher insulin resistance levels. If you have problems with falling asleep or sleeping through the night, discuss it with your doctor, since there are health issues caused by insufficient sleep.
Urinary or Incontinence Problems
Studies show older people with poor sleep habits often have issues with urinary conditions or incontinence. A study involving 4,145 middle-aged men and women showed women who slept poorly for five years or more or who slept less than five hours a night are 80% to 90% more likely to wake up to urinate at night or develop incontinence. Researchers think poor sleep habits lead to inflammation, which causes an increased need to urinate.
Weakened Immune System
The inability to sleep through the night can affect your immune system and weaken its ability to fight off diseases. Your body repairs itself during rest, building up antibodies and cytokines and strengthening the body’s cells so they can fight off viruses, such as the common cold, and bacteria. When you don’t sleep well, the immune system cannot build up its defences, which leaves you vulnerable to disease and chronic illnesses.
If you have sleep problems, talk to your doctor about finding the cause of it so you can rest better at night and keep your body healthy. Simple things like buying a new mattress, meditating at bedtime, or taking the television out of the bedroom may help you sleep better.